The Red Menace

Letter to The Red Menace #4

What Bakunin said

Red Menace:

Your issue discussing the Marx-Bakunin dispute complains that anarchists merely talk around Marxism, rather than getting down to Marx's actual words and intent. But you then violate this stricture yourselves by not actually facing what Bakunin himself said. I am hoping that you'll print these following quotes, so as to provide your readers with at least a slice of Bakunin's critique and social vision.

“The leaders of the Communist Party, namely Mr. Marx and his followers, will concentrate the reins of government in a strong hand. They will centralize all commercial, industrial, agricultural, and even scientific production, and then divide the masses into two armies — industrial and agricultural — under the direct command of state engineers, who will constitute a new privileged scientific and political class.” 1873.

“The Dictatorship of the Proletariat... In reality it would be for the proletariat a barrack regime where the standardized mass of men and women workers would wake, sleep, work and live to the beat of a drum; for the clever and learned a privilege, of governing: and for the mercenary minded, attracted by the State Bank, a vast field of lucrative jobbery.” 1869.

“The programe of the International is very happily explicit: the emancipation of the workers can only be gained by the workers themselves. Is it not astonishing that Marx has believed it possible to graft on this never-the-less so precise declaration, which he publically drafted himself, his scientific socialism? That is to say, the organization of the government of the new society by socialistic scientists and professors - the worst of all, despotic governments! 1872.

“No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created only by freedom.” 1872.

“We who are Materialists and Determinists, just as much as Marx himself, we also recognize the inevitable linking of economic and political facts in history. We recognize, indeed, the necessity, the inevitable character of all events, but we do not bow before them indifferently and above all we are careful about praising them when, by their nature, they show themselves in flagrant opposition to the supreme end of history... the triumph of humanity... by the absolute free and spontaneous organization of economic and social solidarity as completely as possible between all human beings living on earth.

... The Marxists do not reject our program absolutely. They only reproach us with wanting to hasten, to outstrip, the slow march of history and to ignore the scientific law of successive evolutions. Having had the thoroughly German nerve to proclaim in their works consecrated to the philisophical analysis of the past that the bloody defeat of the insurgent peasants of Germany and the triumph of the despotic states in the sixteenth century constituted a great revolutionary progress, they today have the nerve to satisfy themselves with establishing a new despotism to the so-called profit of the urban workers and to the detriment of the toilers of the countryside...

... Mr. Engels, driver on by the same logic, in a letter addressed to one of our friends, Carlo Cafiera, was able to say, without the least irony, but on the contrary, very seriously, that Bismark as well as King Victor Emmanuel II had rendered immense services to the revolution, both of them having created political centralization in their respective countries. I urge the French allies and sympathizers of Mr. Marx to carefully examine how this Marxist concept is being applied in the International.” 1872.

“To support his programme of the conquest of political power, Marx has a very special theory which is, moreover, only a logical consequence of his whole system. The poitical condition of each country, says he, is always the faithful expression of its economic situation; to change the former it is only necessary to transform the latter. According to Marx, all the secret of historic evolution is there. He takes no account of other elements of history, such as the quite obvious reaction of political., juridicial and religious institutions on the economic situation. He says: 'Poverty produces political slavery, the State.' But he does not allow this expression to be turned around to say, 'Political slavery, the State, reproduces in its turn, and maintains poverty as a condition of its own existence, so that, in order to destroy poverty, it is necessary to destroy the State!'” 1872.

“Either one destroys the State or one must accept the vilest and most fearful lie of our century: the red bureaucracy.”

“Freedom without socialism is privilege and justice, and socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality.”

In a subsequent letter I'd like to go into Bakunin's actual words on his programme for federative communalism and a world-wide federation and industrial parliament based on revolutionary industrial unions.

Gary Jewell
Delegate, IWW Defense Local 2


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